Score to DAW (vice versa)

Hello!

I’ve been using Cubase and Sibelius for the better part of 6-7 years. I studied arrangement for orchestra for a couple of years and most of my work is in Sibelius because I find it very intuitive for me writing scores and always beign aware of the notes in front of me . I’m lately making music for media (video games, films etc.) And also writing my own compositions.
I find myself asking people I know, what is ideal way to compose with a DAW/Score. - which is most of the time big orchestra scores.

It might been asked a lot before but I was wondering how others prefer working? Sibelius (or any notation software) to Cubase or the opposite? Or Both?

Thank you! :slight_smile:

Well, with Dorico having the piano roll, you may at least be able to do a lot of the production in Dorico itself.

Welcome to the forum! Since this is not a Dorico specific question, I think you would have better luck asking it in a forum related to scoring/sequencing. Or maybe ask this question instead: is Dorico well suited for making orchestral mockups, and if so, would you like to share your workflow?

Thank you for the reply!
Yes so, I’m working with Sibelius for a long time but lately iv been hearing more and more about Dorico. Wondering how is it going to make a difference. My work flow for now is pretty simple- almost all my compositions are written in Sibelius and when Im done with arrangement I print the whole score so Ill have a physical copy to look at and then I go to Cubase and open my Template which contains many high-end vsts such as Spitfire Audios , Orchestral Tools, Cine samples to name a few…
And by then I start recording each Instrument that is written in the physical score. I think it’s important to point out that all of my compositions are written first as a piano sketch with is later orchestrated in Sibelius as an arrangement. ( I know this workflow might be a little bit old school but I don’t know anything else so if you have other ideas for new workflows I’ll be be more than happy if you can share it with me)

And Is Dorico worth trying just for the fact that I’m working with Cubase?

Thank you again.

The short answer is no, looking at your workflow. If you’re going to enter the score manually in Cubase, using your printed score as a guideline, you could use any engraving program, whether it be Sibelius, Dorico, Finale, or Musescore.

That said, you may want to download the free 30 day trial for Dorico and see if you like the workflow better than that of Sibelius.

And then, check out the youtube videos of legendary film composer Alan Silvestri, who loves to use Dorco and Cubase side by side.

https://youtu.be/GrDqGEQux7g

Very interesting. Two things that jumped out for me:

  1. Why Cubase and not Nuendo? I have wondered why Steinberg has two products that are so similar. I have always heard that “Nuendo is what the movie people use.” Evidently not in this case.

  2. He just mentioned in passing that he eventually hands off his sketches to an orchestrator. I thought that was funny because there is a huge amount of work that goes into the orchestration, and I guess he has achieved the status of being above all that. Nothing new about that. Many of the greatest composers throughout history have had assistants who did much of the hard work. I just thought it was funny that that bit was barely mentioned, although that is probably where Dorico provides the greatest efficiency.

That quote is an oversimplification. Nuendo is focused on audio post production and audio recording. It competes with Pro Tools in this space. Most people who use Nuendo do not work with MIDI at all, and do not work with virtual instruments. They just record audio and do mixing and mastering and that is it. The film specific features in Nuendo are for doing various types of theatrical mixes (Dolby Atmos, etc.) which are part of the final sound mix and nothing that the composer worries about. As a result, any new features that actually are for working with music are added into Cubase first and only brought up to Nuendo maybe a few years later, since pretty much no composers (even the top ones who work in film) actually use Nuendo. If you are a film composer who uses Nuendo, you are basically paying twice as much for the product than you would for Cubase, just to get a bunch of audio features that you never use because they don’t apply to you (like Dolby Atmos encoding), and then having to wait years to get MIDI-related features that Cubase users have had for a long time.

  1. He just mentioned in passing that he eventually hands off his sketches to an orchestrator. I thought that was funny because there is a huge amount of work that goes into the orchestration, and I guess he has achieved the status of being above all that. Nothing new about that. Many of the greatest composers throughout history have had assistants who did much of the hard work. I just thought it was funny that that bit was barely mentioned, although that is probably where Dorico provides the greatest efficiency.

Orchestrators in Hollywood are basically glorified copyists. “Orchestration” as defined by the unions etc. does not include adding any types of counterline or figuration or anything like that, generally only taking a detailed sketch score (strings/winds/brass with lines indicating the instruments to play each note, so that the full orchestration is completely clear from the sketch) and “blowing it up” to a full orchestral score without adding anything new, except possibly an octave doubling here and there. If they are required to do more, they get more than just an orchestration credit.

Most Hollywood orchestrators and copyists use Finale (or sometimes Sibelius). His orchestrator probably isn’t using Dorico yet, and that’s why they barely mentioned that bit.

I appreciate all the insights in your post. Don’t you think it would be a little ironic to have the composer do an a-line sketch in Dorico then have somebody go back and do the rest in Finale?

I’m not doubting it is exactly as you say. There is a huge inertia in the notation camps. If a person has been making a living orchestrating with Finale, then they may not change easily But seriously … a 3-month investment in Dorico learning curve would double their productivity, IMHO, even without considering the fact that in this case, the composer already had the detailed sketch set up in Dorico.

That depends who is paying the other guy’s wages. If the rates are set so that using Finale is still profitable, and somebody has spent decades learning how to use it, they don’t have any incentive to change.

In the case of film music, the end product is the soundtrack, not the score. Nobody cares how pretty it looks so long as the musicians can sight-read it efficiently, and in the pre-computer age the scores and parts were often simply thrown away after the recording - hence the modern cottage industry of reconstructing them by transcribing the audio.

Sure it is more than a little ironic. Rob addressed some of this. Part of the issue here is that the orchestrator is not working in a vacuum - they prepare the conductor’s score and a team of copyists prepare the parts from their notation file. So you not only have to have the orchestrator working in the program but all of the copyists they work with need to be able to use it too (to save time). And if you are an orchestrator and you have composers mostly still giving you Finale sketches or Sibelius sketches you probably aren’t going to see the logic in switching right away (extra work for what benefit, when the copyists don’t know how to use it anyway?). The orchestrator/copyist team has to be efficient to get things done on time. So there are reasons for the inertia, but I think you’ll see some movement over time. Generally those types aren’t that enamoured with Finale or Sibelius to begin with, but there was no better alternative for the longest time.

Besides that, there are still a few features missing from Dorico that make it less attractive currently to Hollywood copyists vs the established options, such as not being able to turn off collision avoidance for bar numbers (https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=246&t=168168&p=901511). Having to manually move all of those bar numbers up when they get pushed down due to collision avoidance could take a lot of time for low register parts like the tuba part or something. If you have a lot of bars like that, it could still be faster to do the part in another program. Whenever there is a newer program, there is the risk of “gotchas” like that that creep up on you that you don’t expect and can end up being time consuming, so most wouldn’t take the risk of switching until they know other copyists or orchestrators who have done so successfully.